Sunday, August 30, 2009

Schools to Prisons.

It might seem odd for a civilized society to focus more of their resources on the populations in their prisons than their schools.   However, this is the situation that the state of California finds its self in at the moment. While the whole budget fiasco of California is being resolved, there is one unnecessary inmate death a week in the system of 160, 000.  According to the Associated Press, California spend around 10 percent of its budget on the inmates of the huge system.  There have numerous proposals from all over the board to fix the growing problem; some suggest pay-as-you-go prison for the wealthier inmates, slightly laughable, or reducing the sentence on minor drug offenders, more reasonable, of who make up a large portion of the inmates. 

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting the moneys allocated to the prisons by $1.2 billion.  This proposal has been blocked by Republican lawmakers who are more worried about appealing to their supporters and financial backers by appearing hard on crime. Why is it that California spends more on the 160, 000 inmates than the 226,000 students in the University of California system? Misguided leaders and misplaced fears.  As pointes out by University of California President Mark Yudof there has been 24 new prisons built over the last 25 years while there has only been one new university built in that time.  While I, as well as anybody, know that prisons are necessary and dangerous criminals are supposed to be locked up.  The numbers of misdemeanor drug cases that cause a person to be incarcerated are unnecessary burden on the already stretched system. 

By keeping so many prisoners looked up in inadequate facilities, the health care costs of the system as a whole has doubled in the last nine to ten years.  In light of the whole proposed health care reform going on in the nation it seems odd that prisoners in the California System have some of their health care paid for.  Although, the protection they get from the rampant health problems can be minimal.  Recently, a federal court the system to reduce its population by 25 percent in the next to years, claiming the health conditions in the prisons unconstitutional. How do the republican propose to do that without decreasing the sentence of drug offenders?